White matter microstructure and network-connectivity in emerging adults with subclinical psychotic experiences

Stijn Michielse, Iris Lange, Jindra Bakker, Liesbet Goossens, Simone Verhagen, Marieke Wichers, Ritsaert Lieverse, Koen Schruers, Therese van Amelsvoort, Jim van Os, Machteld Marcelis

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Group comparisons of individuals with psychotic disorder and controls have shown alterations in white matter microstructure. Whether white matter microstructure and network connectivity is altered in adolescents with subclinical psychotic experiences (PE) at the lowest end of the psychosis severity spectrum is less clear. DWI scan were acquired in 48 individuals with PE and 43 healthy controls (HC). Traditional tensor-derived indices: Fractional Anisotropy, Axial Diffusivity, Mean Diffusivity and Radial Diffusivity, as well as network connectivity measures (global/local efficiency and clustering coefficient) were compared between the groups. Subclinical psychopathology was assessed with the Community Assessment of Psychic Experiences (CAPE) and Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) questionnaires and, in order to capture momentary subclinical expression of psychosis, the Experience Sampling Method (ESM) questionnaires. Within the PE-group, interactions between subclinical (momentary) symptoms and brain regions in the model of tensor-derived indices and network connectivity measures were investigated in a hypothesis-generating fashion. Whole brain analyses showed no group differences in tensor-derived indices and network connectivity measures. In the PE-group, a higher positive symptom distress score was associated with both higher local efficiency and clustering coefficient in the right middle temporal pole. The findings indicate absence of microstructural white matter differences between emerging adults with subclinical PE and controls. In the PE-group, attenuated symptoms were positively associated with network efficiency/cohesion, which requires replication and may indicate network alterations in emerging mild psychopathology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1876-1888
Number of pages13
JournalBrain Imaging and Behavior
Issue number5
Early online date10 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020


  • Emerging adults
  • Network connectivity
  • Psychotic experiences
  • White matter


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